Good question! I am sometimes asked, with polite hesitation, "Do you call them dolls?"
Our culture usually dismisses dolls as just a little girl's toy. But, from a child's view they are more than a toy. My childhood dolls were greatly loved and I remember them with affection.
Let's give dolls a more generous definition. After all, by teaching skills and traditions, they have a place in most world cultures. Sometimes dolls are used in rituals and worship. I define a doll as a creation that portrays the human form, expresses something of the human condition and invites engagement with all who embrace her. Dolls can reflect feelings, memories and stories, spark imagination and create a very personal experience.
"Figurative Sculpture" is a term some doll artists prefer. An inventive design, a creative surface treatment, or skillful use of sometimes surprising materials can add value and interest to a doll and give it artistic merit.
I began making dolls in earnest in 2008. My inspiration comes from many places. When we moved to southern Colorado I was inspired by the bones and sticks and other natural materials that I discovered. Sometimes I am inspired by a character in a story or a legend. More often inspiration is simply a fabric or found item I would like to use or an idea of how to build and assemble a form. My materials are often paper mache and polymer clay. I also like to use fabrics I have painted and incorporate free motion machine quilting into the figure. I have loved learning to sculpt faces and hands from polymer clay. If I can I l bring a bit of whimsy to my figures through their facial expressions that is even more satisfying.